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Royals decline club option on Billy Butler

The 28-year old designated hitter becomes a free agent.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals have declined the $12.5 million club option on Billy Butler, instead opting to pay the $1 million buyout, thus making him a free agent. The 28-year old designated hitter is the longest tenured Royal on the club, having spent eight seasons in a Royals uniform since they made him their first round pick in 2004. Butler is coming off a career-worst season hitting .271/.323/.379 with 9 HR 66 RBI in 151 games.

Butler is still free to sign with the club on a lesser deal, and has said he is open to the possibility, although the rumors are the club does not favor the idea of a full-time designated hitter.

In 4,811 plate appearances for Kansas City, Butler has hit .295/.359/.449 with 127 home runs. His best season came in 2012 when he hit .313/.373/.510 with 29 HR 107 RBI and was named to his only All-Star team. Billy is seventh in franchise history in hits with 1,273, is sixth in doubles with 276, seventh in home runs with 127, and his .295 average is third in club history among players with at least 2,000 plate appearances.

The Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners have both been linked to trade rumors for Butler in the past. Presumably his value may be limited to only American League clubs as he is seen as a full-time designated hitter, although he did fill in passably at first base when Eric Hosmer was out with injury.